Rated 3.0

Clint Eastwood directs Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as that rugby guy in the trueish tale of athletic redemption in the post-apartheid 1990s. Imagine an old Ronald Reagan campaign commercial dressed in drag as one for Barack Obama: It’s morning again in the Republic of South Africa … Anthony Peckham’s screenplay (adapted from John Carlin’s book) gets nudgy and redundant, and Eastwood, not even minding his own artlessness as usual, follows suit: The film abbreviates Mandela’s other affairs of state in order to harp on his very real insight that the malleable symbology of the Springboks rugby team might actually offer his riven nation a way toward its better future. And never mind Kyle Eastwood’s typically anesthetic score; the resonant essence of the story, and its stars’ apparently infinite likability, go plenty far on their own.